Updated: Jul 18, 2019
All of us will have seasons in our life, when we need an extra set of arms and a whole lot of understanding and love to get us through. Whether it be an illness, the arrival of a new baby, or simply a demanding work schedule, asking for help is never as easy as it seems. Well-intentioned friends and family will send messages and encouragement saying, “If you need any help, please do not hesitate to ask!” and “I’m here for you when you need it.”. However, we often don’t know how to reach back out and take the generous support that was offered to us in the first place. If we knew how to ask for help when we needed it, everyone would be feeling a lot less stressed. So, we have gathered a few pieces of advice to get you started.
First things first, you have to let people know that you are at the end of your rope! Sometimes people simply aren’t aware that you need help. Opening up about how difficult a certain season has been with a friend or family member is the first step in reaching out for support. Admitting that we can’t “do it all” is humbling, but it happens to every person at one point or another. Chances are, your friend or family member can relate. And when someone offers their support, believe them when they say they truly DO want to help out. If they do not have the time or resources, they will not offer. It is an honor for people to be able to pitch in for a friend. Think about the last time someone you know went through a difficult or busy time in their life. Then, think about how wonderful it made you feel to know that you could provide some much-needed relief. Your friends, more than likely, feel the same way about you.
Second of all, state exactly what it is that you want help with. People are usually more than willing to pitch in, but don’t know how. Take stock of what you feel like you can and can’t do right now, as well as what is really important and non-negotiable for you. Also, one person’s idea of “help” might be another person’s nightmare. For instance, you may not want someone cleaning your bathroom, but a warm, home-cooked meal would be a much-needed reprieve. Letting people know how and when you need help, makes it simpler for them to lend a hand. And if someone offers to do something that you do not need or want, try reframing the conversation. Something like, “Thank you so much for offering to help. We are good on meals, but I would love it if someone could pick up the kids from school on their way home tomorrow.”, is a polite way to decline an offer and still state your needs.
Finally, there are many different kinds of online platforms that make it easy for people to set up support after major life events. MealTrain.com is a great site for setting up meals for someone and sites like GoFundMe are excellent for setting up monetary care following a major illness or loss. Websites like these take the pressure off of personally asking for support. People can sign up or give as they see fit and can even do so anonymously. Starting a page like this is something you can do for others and friends and family members can do for you.
Asking for help can be scary and it takes some planning, but hopefully these thoughts have emboldened you to reach out when you need it. And remember, it takes a village!